As both a paediatrician and a mother, Dr. Vernon currently works as a hospitalist at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, in the U.S.A and gives parents some great tips when it comes to easing the teething process.
As every parent knows, having an infant in your home can be exciting and enjoyable. However, one of the most challenging times with your new little one is when he or she is teething. This is often an exhausting and frustrating period for parents, and an uncomfortable one for baby. Erupting of primary teeth usually occurs between the ages of 3 and twelve months, and is often associated with symptoms of fussiness, low-grade fevers, drooling and the constant desire of the child to gnaw and chew. Here are some hints to help make this process a little more comfortable:
- The first line of help should be simple, non-medical treatments like allowing your baby to chew on ice rings, teething toys or washcloths that have been cooled or partially frozen. These can help massage the gums and aid any discomfort baby is feeling. However, it is extremely important to keep all baby toys and teething items clean, as they can introduce harmful bacteria into the mouth. This is also an important time to start oral and dental hygiene. Use of safe “baby” toothbrushes will massage the gums and clean any erupting teeth and may decrease the amount of harmful bacteria. The use of a xylitol tooth gel will further reduce this bacterial load, while soothing and “cooling” the inflamed tissues.
- Pain medications or oral analgesics can be helpful in easing any discomfort. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are most commonly used. Do not administer ibuprofen to infants less than 6 months of age and never give an infant or child aspirin. Be careful when using topical analgesics with infants – there may be a risk of toxicity. Remember that multiple medications may result in an overdose, so it’s always advisable to check with your doctor first.
- It is suggested that your child should see a dentist by the age of twelve months, and that you brush or at least oversee your child’s tooth brushing until the age of 8. While many dentists highly recommend using fluoridated toothpastes, these should be used with caution in children. A good alternative is a xylitol-based toothpaste or gel that is safe to swallow. Research has shown that this will not only help reduce the levels of the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, but also strengthen the enamel of the emerging teeth.
Hopefully these hints will help make the teething period more manageable and healthy for your child.